Don Giovanni in New York

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September 22
at 8:00pm

Presented in collaboration with Divaria Productions and our web -

Original Text written by Andrew Bell

This will be a unique historical-based production, re-enacting events leading up to New York's first Italian opera, celebrating the connection between Mozart's librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, one of NY's first Italian immigrants, Spanish bel canto expert Manuel Garcia, and his daughter, opera diva Maria Malibran.  Blending selections from the music of Don Giovanni, which Da Ponte encouraged the Garcia family to present in 1826, as well as an original script based upon Da Ponte’s memoirs and Malibran and Garcia’s letters, we tell the story of the meeting of these three musical icons and their important contribution to Italian culture and the arts.   

***This event is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor M. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and administered by The Huntington Arts Council.




Ricardo Rivera - a semifinalist in the Met Opera National Council Auditions — made major debuts at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, and San Diego Opera as Acalán in the world premiere of El pasado nunca se termina. Other highlights of the past two seasons include Hérode in Hérodiade with Washington Concert Opera, Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor and Lt. Audebert in Silent Night with the Opera San José, Escamillo in Carmen with Heartbeat Opera and Musica Viva Hong Kong, Schaunard in La bohème with Musica Viva Hong Kong, and El payador in María de Buenos Aires with Des Moines Metro Opera. Ricardo has also sung roles with Santa Fe Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Orchestra of NY, Knoxville Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Opera Company of Middlebury. Upcoming engagements include Lt. Gordon in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night with Arizona Opera and Acalán in El pasado nunca se termina with Fort Worth Opera. In 2013 & 2014, Ricardo was an Apprentice Singer at the Santa Fe Opera. He is a recipient of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant and is a graduate (B.M., M.M., & PDPL) of Mannes College the New School for Music.


HELENA BROWN (Donna Elvira)

Lauded as having a "stunningly large round sound," as well as a “steely, velvety” timbre, American dramatic soprano, Helena Brown, is quickly distinguishing herself as a force of nature for the international stages. She was recently awarded Second Place in the Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Vocal Competition, Fourth Place in the Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition, Fourth Place in the Opera Ebony Benjamin Matthews Competition, a grant from the Gerda Lissner Foundation's Lieder/Song Competition, and Encouragement Grants from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Philadelphia, the Wagner Society of New York, and the MetroWest Opera Vocal Competition in Boston. Helena was a member of Sarasota Opera for their 2017 winter season as a Studio Artist, covering the roles of Madame Lidoine (New Prioress) and Madame de Croissey (Old Prioress) in the Dialogues of the Carmelites. This past summer, she returned to the Glimmerglass Festival to sing Isabella in the American premiere of The Siege of Calais and covered Serena in Porgy and Bess. 

Formerly a mezzo-soprano, Helena was a young artist at the 2016 Glimmerglass Festival where she performed Rebecca Nurse and covered Tituba under the baton of Nicole Paiement in Francesca Zambello’s acclaimed production of The Crucible. She made her European debut as Serena and Strawberry Woman in Porgy & Bess with New York Harlem Productions, appearing in theaters such as Grand Théâtre de Genève, Chassé Theater, and Amsterdam RAI. Additionally, Helena appeared with Minnesota Opera, performing Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos; portrayed Bloody Mary in South Pacific at Opera Roanoke; sang Addie inRegina and Mrs. Herring in Albert Herring at Bronx Opera; covered Mama McCourt in Ballad of Baby Doe with Chautauqua Opera; and covered Grandmother Buryjovka in Jenůfa with Des Moines Metro Opera, where she also appeared in scenes concerts as Dalila in Samson et Dalila, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff, Martha in Faust, and Filippyevna in Eugene Onegin.



In 2017 Christopher returned to Natchez Festival Opera as Count Almaviva (cover) in Rossini's "The Barber of Seville". He will also be joining Opera North as Pinkerton (cover) in "Madama Butterfly".

Christopher Nelson made his role debut of Don José in Natchez Festival Opera's 2016 production of "Carmen". Other performances in 2016 include Don Ottovio in Regina Opera's "Don Giovanni", Nemorino in "L'elisir d'amor" and Eisenstein in "Die Fledermaus" with Amore Opera

In 2015, Christopher sang Fredric in "Pirates of Penzance" with both Nashville Opera and Natchez Festival Opera. He covered Pinkerton in "Madama Butterfly" with Natchez Festival of Music. 

The 2014 season included Nemorino in "L'elisir d'amor" with New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Pintkerton(Madama Butterfly) with Amore Opera, and Alexander (New Moon) with Light Opera of New York.

Christopher performed the role of Lun Tha in The Ohio Light Opera's 2013 production of "The King and I".  Earlier in the year, he made his debut with The Light Opera of New York as Karl in Victor Herbert's "Sweethearts".  In 2012 he sang his first Alfredo in Verdi's "La Traviata" with Amore Opera as well as Ernesto in "Don Pasquale".  Christopher was an Apprentice Artist with the Des Moines Metro Opera in 2011 where he sang Tamino in DMMO's outreach production of "Die Zauberflöte", and with Opera Santa Barbara in 2010. 

Christopher received his Masters from Indiana University as a student of Carol Vaness. Christopher currently studies with Braeden Harris.


ASHLEY BELL (Donna Anna) 

Hailed by Opera News as “delightful”, soprano Ashley Bell has performed as a soloist in the United States, Italy, Spain, France and Russia.  Recent performances have included covering Blanche in Dialogue of the Carmelites and the title role in Madama Butterfly with the Sarasota Opera, Violetta in La Traviata with the Axelrod Theatre/Mid-Atlantic Opera, her debut as Gilda in Rigoletto with New Jersey Verismo Opera, a Shakespeare concert with the New York City Opera, Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni in the Narni Festival in Italy with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Roma, Norina in Don Pasquale in Logroño, Spain, Isabella Colbran in the premiere of Discovering Mrs. Rossini at the new Sheen Center in NYC, and Musetta at the National Opera Center.  Ms. Bell, fluent in Spanish, has also appeared frequently in zarzuela productions with company Rioja Lirica in Spain and New York City, including the lead in Serrano’s La Dolorosa.  

Other recent performances include the soprano soloist at the Basilica of St. Patrick Old Cathedral’s commemoration of the 175th Anniversary of Lorenzo da Ponte, Dorothée in the U.S. premiere of Offenbach’s La Bonne D’Enfant with Salome Chamber Orchestra, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro with Teatro Lirico D'Europa and Opera New Hampshire, Molpe in the world premiere of the Odyssey at the 92nd Street Y, Beauty in Giannini’s Beauty and the Beast and Mimi in La Bohème with Dicapo Opera. Ms.Bell is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University and speaks five languages fluently.  Upcoming performances include covering Fiora in L'Amore Tre Re with New York City Opera and Violetta in La Traviata at the Rioja Forum in Spain.  



Ms. Havens was most recently seen as Lola in Cavalleria Rusticana with Daniel Cardona Opera in New York City. This past summer she was seem performing as The Marquise of Berkenfield in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment with Opera North. Natalie has also been seen as the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites with UNCG Opera and the title role in Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier with Harrower Opera. Other roles include Miss Todd in Menotti’s Old Maid and the Thief, Harriett in The Clever Artifice of Harriett and Margaret (Scenes Competition Winner for National Opera Association), Scribe/Maria Magdalena in Phillip Glass’s Galileo Galilei, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dolly in Hello, Dolly!, and Marian Paroo in The Music Man. She obtained a bachelor’s degree from The Florida State University and a masters degree from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


PAULINA COSSIO (Maria Malibran) 

PAULINA COSSIO started acting at a young age. Then at 9 she got accepted into CEA Infantil Televisa, an acting conservatory for kids in Mexico. By the time she finished the program, she had already booked a recurring role in a Mexican soap opera. At 13 she found her love for dubbing and voice over.  She’s dubbed several shows from English to Spanish like Super Book, 3,2,1 Penguins and South Park.  After moving to Miami, Paulina continued studying theater. She was cast as Teresista in La Vervena de la Paloma (The Dove’s Party) and she also booked her first co-star role on Burn Notice. In 2014 she completed The Two-year Tom Todoroff Conservatory in NYC. Paulina is very excited to be part of this Don Giovanni and has a couple more projects on the way. 




MICHAL GIZINSKI (Lorenzo da Ponte) was born in Poland and graduated from Warsaw Theatre Academy.  He worked, among others, with Atheneum Theatre, Contemporary Theatre in Warsaw, New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and the Pulse Theatre in New York. His roles have included Vershinin in" Three Sisters", Boyet in" Love’s labour's lost", Count Dracula in “ Like a vampire “, Kudelius in “ The summer “.   He currently lives in New York City.



appearing courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera

The 2018/19 season will mark Richard Bernstein's 24th consecutive season with the Metropolitan Opera as he sings Pistola inFalstaff, Zuniga in Carmen, Bello in La Fanciulla del West, 2nd Armored Man in The Magic Flute and Commissioner #2 in Dialogues des Carmélites while also covering roles in Gianni Schicchi, Samson et Dalila,Adriana Lecouvrer, Tosca and Siegfried. 

In the 2017/18 season with the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Bernstein performed in Die Zauberflöte – both the full-length opera in German and a family-friendly abridged version in English – Tosca and Parsifal, while also covering roles Le nozze di Figaro, Elektra, Roméo et Juliette, and the American premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel (new production). In addition he performed the role of Angelotti in Tosca with The Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, bass soloist in Beethoven’s magisterial Ninth Symphony with the New Jersey Choral Society, and returned to one of his touchstone roles: Leporello in Don Giovanni, at Chautauqua Opera.

Mr. Bernstein’s versatility is displayed in the diverse mix of repertoire he has performed and covered over the years with the Metropolitan Opera, running the gamut from classic operas to contemporary works, in languages as varied as Czech, French, German, Italian, Sanskrit, Russian, and English. These include roles in Faust, Satyagraha, Das Rheingold, Siegfried, La bohème, Simon Boccanegra, Die Zauberflöte, Tosca, Hamlet, From the House of the Dead, Armida, Ariadne auf Naxos, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Ernani, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, War and Peace, Macbeth, A View From the Bridge, and Wozzeck.

Mr. Bernstein has also performed leading roles around the country and abroad. In particular, he has performed his signature roles of Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) and Leporello (Don Giovanni) worldwide. In the 2014-15 season, Mr. Bernstein debuted the role of Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin at the Chautauqua Festival in July and August. The 2012-13 season saw him garner warm praise for his first leading Wagnerian role: Daland in Der fliegende Holländer at the Princeton Festival.  That year also included successful debuts as Tiresias in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (Cincinnati May Festival) and Herod in Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ (at Carnegie Hall). In 2011-12, he returned to LA Opera – the company of his operatic debut – to sing Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring under Maestro James Conlon’s baton. He made his July 2010 debut with Opera Fairbanks as Leporello, followed by a turn as Bartolo in Le nozze di Figaro at the Ravinia Festival.




ANTON ARMENDARIZ (Director and Manuel Garcia) 

As the artistic director of La Rioja Lirica opera company in Spain. His directing experience began in short videos, being a finalist for the productions of Serjei and Imprudencia in the Barcelona Film Festival. He directed several documentaries about climbing in the Himalayas and is currently preparing a remake of the film Paranoia to be shot in New York next year. He studied film direction with Eduardo Gil and interpretation with the Professor of the Institut de Teatre de Barcelona, stage director Jordi Godall. His passion for music soon led him to form the company Rioja Lirica where he has directed many successful productions including, L’Elisir D’Amore, Don Giovanni, Cosi Fan Tutte,El Barberillo de Lavapies, La Voix Humaine, Mozart’s Dream (a show based on the Da Ponte trilogy), La Traviata, Las Heroinas de la Zarzuela and La Dolorosa. Upcoming productions that he will direct include El barberillo de Lavapies with RiojaLirica and Le Nozze di Figaro at the Narni Festival in Italy. This version of Don Pasquale has been presented already to great acclaim at the RiojaForum in Logroño, Spain.



Nicolò Sbuelz is an Italian pianist, opera coach and assistant conductor. He has served as a rehearsal pianist, vocal coach, prompter and chorus master with the Teatro alla Scala (Milan), Teatro Valli (Reggio Emilia), Teatro Comunale “Pavarotti” (Modena), Teatro Comunale “Mario del Monaco” (Treviso), Cercle dramatique français (London), Kaliningrad Opera Theater (Russia), Opéra National de Lyon (France), and Sarasota Opera (Florida), and has taken part in music festivals like the Holland Festival (Amsterdam), Wiener Festwochen (Vienna, Austria), Aspen Music Festival (Colorado), Wolf Trap Opera (Virginia), and Co-Opera Company (London). He has performed as a collaborative pianist with various ensembles and soloists in Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Netherlands, Great Britain, Oman, Israel, United States, and China.

After his degree in Piano Performance in Trieste, Mr. Sbuelz attended the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in Milan where he had the chance to collaborate with some of the greatest singers of our time, such as Mirella Freni, Renato Bruson, Luciana Serra, Lella Cuberli, and Sonia Prina. In 2013, he was one of the official pianists for the Beijing International Opera Competition in China, and in 2014, he joined the staff of The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in the Palestinian Territories as part of his dissertation research in Musicology and Ethnoaesthetics. Mr. Sbuelz is a graduate of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala, the Università degli Studi di Pavia, and the San Francisco Opera's Merola Opera Program. His appointments as music staff include Sarasota Opera's Fall and Winter seasons and Wolf Trap Opera.



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